Instinct Education and a Sense of Education
      Shinichi Suzuki
      From TERI Journal  “TALENT”  No.1(1953)
l believe that displaying great ability requires a variety of integrating factors. If you consider one of these factors, such as “performing”, you will notice that there are several layers within this single action.

Seeing that from an educational point of view and talking about the very simple question “how can you perform”,“how”indicates ability at many different levels, not just how advanced the student is but also what level of polish you expect from the “performance”. I believe that the quality of education given depends on the teacher’s response to this question.

As such, when developing others’ ability through education, we should not use our own limits and common sense as a standard but should apply a condition to generate high ability, together with a method to fulfil such a condition. I do not only possess this theory, I am also executing it.

’A condition to generate high ability’ is to ’bring the ability to the level of instinct’, and a method should always be applied so one’s ability gets closer to the actions of instinct, using the given material regardless of whether it is for the beginner or advanced level.

I believe that such a method, combined with the accumulation of an endless number of repetitions and unlimited practice to acquire the actions of instinct can generate great ability, and such ability will become high human capacity. This good method of education, which consistently develops the ability of instinct from the beginning, is the very thing we adopt when learning our mother tongue.

Shouldn’t we admit it is an excellent ability that our thoughts and words are almost directly linked to each other when we speak Japanese?

Instinct is not something that you suddenly get when you finally have become a specialist or a great master. I consider instinct to be an inevitable result of education where efforts to develop instinct have been accumulated from the start.

In short, an extraordinary ability is always demonstrated where there has been ’ability-oriented education’. We all demonstrate a remarkable ability as we have learned our mother tongue through “ability-oriented education”, however, it becomes a common practice and we begin to find it unremarkable when too many people start to demonstrate a remarkable ability. I think that mother tongue education teaches us a method and principle in developing human qualities to an exceptionally high level.

What you realise while studying a foreign language is the high ability of your mother tongue. Looking back at my trail of learning a foreign language, it was far from “ability-oriented education”, but a mere stack of what I managed to understand or memorise with effort. As such, when speaking the foreign language, my ability is pitiable as I have to speak and read, making decisions based on my inadequate knowledge pulled out of memory.

In my opinion this situation is caused by a traditional educational attitude that limits learning to what you can remember and what you can understand.

We must change the common attitudes of the educational system. One of our tasks in Talent Education is clearly to demand this change.

In Talent Education, for instance, when students have acquired the ability to play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, our teachers will try to educate the students so they can play it more finely, more freely, to the level of instinct. However, if the students’ parents hold on to the conventional idea, and think it is only natural to move onto the next piece now that their child can play Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, we really are in trouble.

This is the very point I really wish for you to understand. Those parents who do not understand this point are unhappy that their child is not allowed to move onto the next piece. As such, counter to the increased passion of the instructor, they will begin to lose enthusiasm and, will eventually make less effort for their child’s practice. That is the reason, I think, why those parents start criticising the teacher who is trying hard to develop their child’s talent, as they are frustrated by the teacher not allowing their child to move on after spending as long as one year practising Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. But this is where I want the parents to make a significant effort. l want them to think“Our child now has acquired the ability to play it at last! Here is the crucial starting point!”Because the children have already acquired the ability to play it, with further effort they will quickly be excellent with no doubt. The children are finally ready for a leap. If the parents make significant efforts here, knowing that now it is when they should work hard, their child will make a great deal of progress.

However, if the parents do not share this common sense, they are dominated by the idea“Now, next!!”at the most crucial education stage where we must think “Now, here!! ”, and that will lead to failure. The children’s ability will not grow under the supervision of those who have this kind of common sense. This is the difference between ordinary people and the great masters. Great teachers are those who cultivate ability in a necessary form: not only do they know how to do it but they are achieving it.

If methods required for“getting the ability closer to instinct ” or“training the ability to the level of intuition” are individually designed and carried out, then I have no doubt that human abilities can be developed. Also, because a strong demand for such abilities will dictate the degree of the ability of those who are educated, the education level needs to be high enough to“get closer to instinct and train the ability to the level of intuition”. This is a crucial point as a teacher’s expectations dictate the resulting level of ability. This is such an important issue, and if you ignore it and just constantly move to the next piece, you are asking for the ongoing development to stop.

If the methods required for“getting the ability closer to instinct” or for“training the ability to the level of intuition” are individually designed and carried out, then I have no doubt that human abilities can be developed.

(The rest is omitted.)